Oh, the stigma of being the NBA's latest team. Bad record after bad record, the fight for fans in a market which already surrendered its first team to New Orleans, the growing pains of ownership and management. And a team president who spends his time scouring the newest casinos and golf courses for the best NBA talent. Michael Jordan, what have the Charlotte Bobcats done to you?
The Charlotte Bobcats, being the newest team in the NBA - and, in fact, the newest team in American mainstream professional sports (plus hockey) - haven't added up to a whole lot since their creation in 2004. Yes, everyone knows Michael Jordan runs the team, and that his public image has taken a tremendous hammering over the last several years, and that he can't cut it as a GM. Yes, the team bowed out of the latest NBA season as the official worst team in NBA history. The last season was shortened to 66 games by a strike, and if any of my readers know anything about NBA history, they are well aware of the fact that there are teams in the NBA who have been so bad as to somehow win less than ten games over the 82-game regular season. The Bobcats managed to fall feet and knees below anything any of those teams have ever done. They won just seven games, which not only broke the record for least number of games won, but in the shortened season, also took out the record for lowest-ever winning percentage. Yeah, they were THAT bad.
To be fair, they weren't the first expansion team in American mainstream sports (plus hockey) to set loss records. The New York Mets (http://www.lunch.com/reviews/sports_team/Use...205257-The_Amazins.html) lost a record 120 baseball games in their 1962 debut season, a mark of ineptitude so bad that it took 41 years for anyone to mount a serious threat to it. (The Detroit Tigers, after years of being resoundingly average, decided to completely rebuild and began their plan by designed implosion in 2003. They breathed down the '62 Mets' necks the entire season until a last-minute winning streak concluding in a last-day victory set their loss number to rest at 119, a record in the American League.) The NHL's San Jose Sharks lost a whopping 71 games in the 1993 season, their second in existence. How did the Bobcats arrive at such a mark of ineptitude?
After the Hornets left Charlotte in 2002, the NBA immediately promised they would get a new team in 2004. And they did! Lots of ownership groups bid for that right, including one led by Larry Bird. The team was eventually awarded to Robert L. Johnson, founder of the cable TV station BET. He's the first black majority owner of a team in professional sports. One of his co-owners in the famous rapper Nelly. They threw a name the team contest, with the three most populate choices being the Charlotte Flight, Charlotte Dragons, and Charlotte Bobcats. In summer of 2003, the team let the public know about its final choice of Bobcats, because according to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, bobcats are fierce and athletic predators, and they're indigenous to the Carolinas. And being named after a cat, it was a good compliment to the NFL's Carolina Panthers.
In the expansion draft, the Bobcats took a collection of young talent and great European players. A trade with the Los Angeles Clippers got them second pick in the draft, which they used on Emeka Okafor, who went on to win Rookie of the Year. They were rid of him by 2009, though. In the 2005 draft, they hoped to form a solid core of young players by adding Raymond Felton and Sean May, seminal picks because North Carolina is a hotbed of college basketball, and they were drafted out of the University of North Carolina. They won 18 games in their first season, and improved to 26 wins in their second season.
After that year, Michael Jordan happened. He bought a minority stake in the team, and in his first year, the Bobcats showed even more improvement. In February that year, they were 22-33 with a reasonable chance at the playoffs, but endured an eight-game losing streak which dashed their hopes. During the slump, Jordan said head coach Bernie Bickerstaff would only be around for the remainder of that very season. Bickerstaff made an idiot of Jordan when he guided the Bobcats to a solid closing record of 11-8 over their last 19 games. But he did have an overall record of 77-169 over those three seasons in Charlotte.
Under their second head coach, Sam Vincent, the Bobcats were expected to make their first playoff birth the following year, but they actually did worse, winning 32 games. Vincent didn't last after that year, and the great Larry Brown was hired. Brown worked his magic and in 2010, went to the playoffs with 44 wins. Gerald Wallace became the team's first-ever All-Star that year as well. But their season ended in the first round with a sweep at the hands of the Orlando Magic.
Larry Brown quit for some reason. He does that a lot, but after great hopes to start the following year, the Bobcats spiraled out of control. They won only 32 games. The following year, they set a franchise record for losses in a row with 16. To close out the season, they decided to celebrate the team loss in a row record by saying "We can do better than that!" And they DID do better! They lost all 23 of the last 23 games of the season, making the loss percentage record official on national TV against the New York Knicks. (http://www.lunch.com/reviews/sports_team/Use...he_New_York_Groove.html)
With that fiasco under their belt, you have to wonder if the basketball fans in Charlotte are wishing for their old team back. The Bobcats have one playoff appearance, one All-Star - and by that I mean a Bobcat made the All-Star roster ONE TIME - in Gerald Wallace, and in fact Wallace is the only remote thing the Bobcats have to a real face of their team. And he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers a couple of years ago, before going to his current gig with the Brooklyn Nets! Really, what am I supposed to give this team any points for? A seven-win season? Jordan at the helm? A first-round playoff sweep? Maybe winning their first game last season?
The Bobcats have one of the best mascots in the NBA in Rufus D. Lynx, a name created by the scientific name for the bobcat, which is lynx rufus. But besides that, there's no reason for my proverbial fan without a team to take up arms with the Charlotte Bobcats unless he's a Carolina native or a masochist. The team is doing so bad that it already resorted to changing its logo, and less than ten years in, that already a very bad sign.